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Govt assures relief for farmers hit by rain, hailstorms

wheat crop

New Delhi: Government today promised to take all administrative and relief measures to help farmers hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorm in North and Western India, as members across the political spectrum in Rajya Sabha sought immediate financial assistance and loan waivers for them.

Acknowledging the unanimous voice on the issue, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would act “with compassion and without going into technicalities” of the matter.

He informed the House that the Agriculture Minister has constituted separate teams for each state to assess the losses and all the three Ministers have started visiting the affected states from today.

His remarks came after Opposition Congress, BSP, JD-U and CPI(M) demanded that the Centre should immediately announce financial assistance, assess the extent of damage to crops and wave interest on loans of distressed farmers.

K C Tyagi (JD-U), who initiated the discussion, said though crops worth Rs 22,000 crore has been lost in the natural fury, the insurance companies were assessing crop loss at no more than Rs 1,000 crore.

Former Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar (NCP) spoke at length on the damage to crops from drought, unseasonal rain and hailstorm and asked Centre to chip in with more help and waive short-term loans particularly crop loan as well as the interest on loans for purchase of agriculture equipments.

Members from Treasury and Opposition benches alike thumped desks endorsing views of Pawar, who also expressed concern over falling purchase prices of cotton and sugarcane.

Vijay Goel (BJP) said that since all MPs have expressed concern over the plight of farmers, they should agree to give a month’s salary to meet the challenge as has been done by MLAs from Rajasthan.

Jaitley said the government has full sympathy with the farmers in this hour of natural crisis and the Centre would take all possible steps.

He said several MPs and state governments have sent letters to the Centre regarding the damage to crops in their respective areas, but the assessment of losses has not been done in all states so far.

Noting that all parties have carried forward the issue raised by Tyagi in one voice, Jaitley said he would apprise the concerned minister of the sentiments of the House.

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